I must confess I had ambivalencies about Courtney. I'm impressed by
her acting and like her music; but some of the live concert stuff
could get a bit over the top.
All that changed when I read her Salon article.
Here was a compassionate and erudite voice that hit the proverbial
nail on the head. She is absolutely correct -- the RIAA and the
greedy companies they represent daily rape their indentured servants
who squirm under their thumb. They whine about lost profits while
shoveling ever increasing profits into their coffers.
Fortunately more are becoming enlightened to this apparent hypocrisy.
You go, grrl.
As an aside, the RIAA's evil twin, the MPAA, is doing the same thing
with regards to DVDs. They cry that DeCSS, which is software that
bypasses DVD encryption, will hemorrhage their profits as alleged
legions of pirates freely swap films siphoned from their discs. This
is, of course, so much steaming bovine feces.
The issue there is a variation on the RIAA theme. It's all about
control, boys and girls. There's no piracy of DVD films. None.
Zippo. Nada. First, blank CDs are more expensive than just buying
the damned originals. (Courtesy of a "tax" to recoup alleged losses
due to piracy. Guess what? You pay the same kind of "tax" on all
blank cassettes. Yes, it pissed me off, too.) Second, blanks have
certain sectors over-written to prevent bitwise copies. No, the
real issue is that the MPAA and the DVD consortium
wants to insure that you buy a DVD player that's been
manufactured by a company that's agreed to pay their usurious
licensing fees. If any ole DVD player that doesn't have the right
codecs can read their DVDs, then who needs to pay Da Man?
And then there's radio.
I live near Washington, D.C. The radio landscape here makes the Gobi
seem a verdant, tropical paradise by comparison. It's bleak. And
it's a god damned shame that this is our capital, and I can get naught
but the same crap from station to station. I can't count the times
I've skipped through channels to hear the same tunes.
It's all homogenized shite some algorithm on a corporate computer
somewhere decided that a certain demographic wanted to hear. Play
lists are digested by a data mining program, tune fitness weights are
adjusted based on popularity and air times, and new play lists are
disgorged to corporate affiliates around the country. And since
people only hear what the stations want them to hear, they miss out on
glorious music that might be happening just down the street. They
perpetuate this insipid feedback by requesting from only those tunes
they hear. And so the magic music shite circle spins again.
I miss WRAS, Album 88, which is a college radio station in Atlanta.
The DJs there aren't on some pay-roll. The only algorithm they
use is the one percolating away between their ears. Some of the stuff
they play is ... dubious. But that is refreshing because it is
different, and the artist played because they loved it. They
played from their soul.
(Damn, I wish they'd get a shoutcast or realaudio server up. I pester
them about it annually. Which reminds me, they're about do for this
And that brings me to some solutions.
Thank Ghod for shoutcast. I tune my mp3 player to a decent techno
beat bleating from half a continent away, and sliiide back into the
groove. No commercials. No palp. No stupid talking heads. Just
what some joker threw together on his machine. You know, stuff he
liked and thought that other folks would like, too.
Didn't radio station DJs used to be that way? I've even heard
legend of some showing up with their own records.
Too bad you can't listen these internet stations on the road.
Fortunately, you can get an mp3 car stereo, though they're a
bit pricey. But you can always rely on one aspect of technology --
the price always comes down.
Back to the RIAA debacle.
The musician and fan revolt is flaring up in myriad forms. Napster,
gnutella, freenet, and mp3.com are obviously on the front-lines. But
I recently was made aware of OrangeAlley. These guys
are trying out something that's unique. And I wish it wasn't. We
need more of these kinds of sites.
These guys are trying another way to bypass the greedy corporate
basterds. The idea is simple. An artist sends OrangeAlley mp3s of
their stuff and it's added to the site. You listen to a sample. You
like. You buy the track for 99 cents. And MOST of
the money goes direct to the artist.
I like this idea. I like this idea muchly.
I've already spent a couple greenbacks on some tracks. Yeah, I could
probably bum 'em off of Napster. But why bother? I like the idea
that I'm directly supporting the musician. With each buck I'm sending a
personal, "Hi! I listen to and enjoy your stuff. Please keep up the
What's also hella keww is that the artist is notified of the
particulars of each purchase. This means that musicians can
directly get in touch with everyone that bought their music.
This, I feel, can only do good.
Diagonally parked in a parallel universe.